Researcher biography

Katharine Gelber is Head of the School of Political Science and International Studies, and Professor of Politics and Public Policy. Her research is in the field of freedom of speech, and the regulation of public discourse. She has been awarded several ARC, and other, competitive research grants. In November-December 2017, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Global Freedom of Expression Project, Columbia University, New York. In Dec 2017, she jointly hosted, with Prof Susan Brison, a workshop at the Princeton University Center for Human Values on, 'Free Speech and its Discontents'. In 2014, with Prof Luke McNamara, she was awarded the Mayer journal article prize for the best article in the Australian Journal of Political Science in 2013. In 2011 she was invited by the United Nations to be the Australian Expert Witness at a regional meeting examining States' compliance with the free speech and racial hatred provisions of international law. In 2009 she presented the Mitchell Oration in Adelaide on the topic 'Freedom of Speech and its Limits'. She is the author of three monographs (Free Speech After 9/11, OUP 2016; Speech Matters, UQP, 2011, Speaking Back, John Benjamins, 2002), and three edited books (incl. Free Speech in the Digital Age, OUP 2019).

Kath is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences Australia, and a former President of the Australian Political Studies Association and has served on its Executive Committee (2010-2018). She was Chair of the Local Organising Committee for the July 2018 World Congress of the International Political Science Association, Brisbane which brought 2400 political scientists to Brisbane. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the Australian Journal of Politics and History.

Selected publications:


Brison, S and Gelber, K (eds) 2019 Free Speech in the Digital Age, Oxford University Press, New York.

Gelber, K 2016 Free Speech After 9/11, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Gelber, K 2011. Speech Matters: Getting Free Speech Right, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia.

Panzironi, F & Gelber, K (eds) 2012. The Capability Approach: Development Practice and Public Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region, Routledge, London.

Refereed journal articles

Brennan, K; D Duriesmith, E Fenton and K Gelber 2022 "Gendered Mundanities: Gender Bias in Student Evaluations of Teaching in Political Science", Australian Journal of Political Science (published online 27 Feb 2022),

Bowman, K and Gelber, K 2021 'Responding to Hate Speech: Counter Speech and the University', Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, 28(3): 248-275.

Gelber, K 2021 'Differentiating Hate Speech: A Systemic Discrimination Approach', Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 24(4): 393-414, DOI: 10.1080/13698230.2019.1576006 (published online 2019).

Gelber, K and O'Sullivan, S 2020 "Cat Got Your Tongue? Free Speech, Democracy and Australia's 'Ag-Gag' Laws", Australian Journal of Political Science, 56(1): 19-34,

Gelber, K 2019 'Norms, Institutions and Freedom of Speech in the US, the UK and Australia', Journal of Public Policy, online 25 June,

Gelber, K 2019 'Terrorist-extremist speech and hate speech: understanding the similarities and differences' Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 22(3), 607-622, doi: 10.1007/s10677-019-10013-x.

Gelber, K 2018 'Incitement to hatred and countering terrorism – policy confusion in the UK and Australia', Parliamentary Affairs 71(1): 28-49,

Gelber, K 2017 'Diagonal Accountability: Freedom of Speech in Australia', Australian Journal of Human Rights 23(2): 203-219. (Published in Special Issue: 'Democracy and Human Rights')

Gelber, K 2017 'Hate Speech – Definitions and Empirical Evidence', Constitutional Commentary 32: 101-111.

Gelber, K & McNamara, L 2016 'Anti-vilification laws and public racism in Australia: mapping the gaps between the harms occasioned and the remedies provided', University of New South Wales Law Journal 39(2): 488-511.

Gelber, K & McNamara, L 2016 'Evidencing the harms of hate speech', Social Identities, 22 (1-3): 324-341. DOI: 10.1080/13504630.2015.1128810.

Gelber, K & McNamara, L 2015 'The effects of civil hate speech laws: lessons from Australia', Law and Society Review 49(3): 631-664. DOI: 10.1111/lasr.12152.

Gelber, K & McNamara, L 2014 'Changes in the expression of prejudice in public discourse in Australia: assessing the impact of hate speech laws on letters to the editor 1992-2010' Australian Journal of Human Rights 20(1): 99-128.

Dunne, T. and Gelber, K 2014 'Arguing Matters: The Responsibility to Protect and the case of Libya', Global Responsibility to Protect 6(3): 326-349.

Gelber, K & McNamara, L 2014 'Private Litigation to address a Public Wrong: A study of Australia's regulatory response to 'hate speech'', Civil Justice Quarterly 33(3): 307-334.

Gelber, K & McNamara, L 2013 'Freedom of speech and racial vilification in Australia: 'The Bolt case' in public discourse, Australian Journal of Political Science 48(4): 470-484. [Winner of the 2014 Mayer journal article prize awarded by the Australian Political Studies Association]

Gelber, K 2013 'Secrecy provisions in Australian counter terrorism policy: violating international human rights standards?' Australian Journal of Human Rights 19(2): 25-46.

Gelber, K 2012. 'Political Culture, Flag Use and Freedom of Speech', Political Studies, 60(1): 163-179.

Gauja, A & Gelber, K 2011. 'High Court Review 2010: The Resurgence of Rights?', Australian Journal of Political Science 46(4): 683-698.

Book chapters

Gelber, K 2019 (forthcoming) 'Speaking Back', in Frederick Schauer and Adrienne Stone eds., Oxford Handbook on Freedom of Speech, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Gelber, K 2019 (forthcoming) 'Free Speech Debates in Australia – contemporary controversies', in Helen Knowles and Brandon Metroka eds., Free Speech Theory: Understanding the Controversies, Peter Lang.

Gelber, K 2019 (forthcoming) 'Capabilities and the Law', in E Chiapperro-Martinetti, S Osmani & M Qizilbash eds The Cambridge Handbook of the Capability Approach Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Gelber, K and Brison, S 2019 'Digital Dualism and the "Speech as Thought" Paradox', in Brison, S and Gelber, K (eds) Free Speech in the Digital Age, Oxford University Press, New York.

Gelber, K & Stone, A 2017 'Constitutions, Gender and Freedom of Expression: the Legal Regulation of Pornography', in Helen Irving ed. Constitutions and Gender, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham: 463-481, DOI: 10.4337/9781784716967.

Gelber, K 2016 'Critical Race Theory and the constitutionality of hate speech regulation', in R Dixon & G Appleby (eds) The Critical Judgments Project: Re-reading Monis v The Queen, Federation Press, Sydney: 88-102.

Dunne, T & Gelber, K 2015 'Argumentation and the Responsibility to Protect: The case of Libya', in Kurt Mills and David Karp (eds) Human Rights Protection in Global Politics: Responsibilities of States and Non-State Actors, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke: 288-308.

Gauja, A & Gelber, K 2015 'The French Court' in Rosalind Dixon and George Williams (eds) The High Court, the Constitution and Australian Politics, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne: 311-326.

Gelber, K 2012. '"Speaking back" – the Likely Fate of Hate Speech Policy in the United States and Australia', in Ishani Maitra & Mary Kate McGowan (eds) Speech and Harm: Controversies over Free Speech, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Gelber, K 2012. 'Nussbaum's Capabilities Approach and Freedom of Speech', in Francesca Panzironi & Katharine Gelber (eds). The Capability Approach: Development Practice and Public Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region, Routledge, London: 38-52.

Gelber, K 2012. 'Reconceptualising Counter-speech in Hate Speech Policy (with a Focus on Australia)', in Michael Herz & Peter Molnar (eds) The Content and Context of Hate Speech: Rethinking Regulation and Responses, Cambridge University Press, New York: 198-216.

Areas of research